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First Look: Photoshop 7 for OS X

The ubiquitous image editor goes native By Dave Nagel
With the announcement of Photoshop 7, Adobe has finally brought to light the one application that has been keeping so many creative professionals from adopting Mac OS X. While a whole lot of us would have settled--happily, I might add--for a simple OS X port of Photoshop 6, what we're winding up with, in fact, is a whole lot more. New creative tools, new workflow options and new editing functions, all wrapped up into what is--even at the beta stage--a remarkably solid and powerful OS X application.

Over the course of this week, we'll be looking in depth at some of the major new features of Photoshop 7. For now, on the day of Photoshop 7's announcement, I thought it would be beneficial to take a broad look at what the new Photoshop has to offer. This is by no means intended to be a full review of the new software. Rather, it's a first look at what you can expect when the full version is released some time in April (or possibly a little later in the second quarter).

If you haven't already read the news release about Photoshop 7, which contains information about all of the new features, as well as pricing and availability, be sure to read up on it here.

Creative tools
Among Photoshop's new repertoire of features, the most awe-inspiring come in the form of creative tools. And among these, the most significant is the completely new paint engine.

Photoshop has always been a great tool for compositing, effects and image editing, but it's also always lacked robust painting tools. Sure, you had the airbrush and paint brush, but these were flat tools designed much more for touch-up work than for painting. But Photoshop 7 changes this. While it still isn't going to touch dedicated painting programs like Corel Painter or Synthetik Studio Artist in terms of the power of the painting tools, the new release does give Photoshop users a whole lot more to work with.

Key to this new set of painting tools is the brand, spankin' new Brush palette, seen below undocked into its own separate window.

By default, the Brush palette is lodged in the Palette Wall at the top of the Photoshop interface. Clicking on its tab reveals all of the options for the current brush. Included in these options are Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Texture, Dual Brush, Color Dynamics, Other Dynamics, Noise, Wet Edges, Airbrush, Smoothing and Protect Texture.

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